Friday, May 20, 2011

What you need to know to be ready for a flood

Devastating floods in many U.S. states have displaced thousands of people in recent weeks and damaged homes and businesses. For some of the areas affected, this isn’t their first time experiencing a flood. Communities located near bodies of water or in low-lying areas are more prone to flooding and can experience cyclical floods. But floods can happen in unexpected places.
With that in mind, now is a good time to plan ahead for a potential flood where you live. Planning ahead for flood-related emergencies can be the difference between staying safe and watching everything that matters to you washed away in a matter of hours. Here are some tips to remember:

• Know your community’s evacuation plan in case of flood, including shelter locations, evacuation routes and emergency alert systems.

• Stockpile one gallon of water per day per person in your home, and maintain at least a three-day supply. If there is a flood, your community’s water system may be contaminated.

• Store non-perishable food, diapers and mediations in waterproof containers and make sure to store a portable first aid kit, waterproof gloves and boots, insect repellant and a battery-powered radio.

• If your home is built in a flood-prone area, elevate the furnace, water heater and electrical panel. Also, consider buying flood insurance and keeping important documents in elevated sections of your home.

If a flood is likely in your area, stayed tuned to your local radio or television station for evacuation instructions and or guidelines. When evacuating your home remember the following tips to help minimize damages and injuries:

• Time permitting, move all essential items to an elevated and secure location.

• Turn off electricity and unplug appliances as well as gas and water supplies.

• Don’t drive through moving water, flooded areas or deep crevasses, as your car may be swept away.

After a flood, you’ll need to take special precautions when cleaning up your home, such as taking care around electricity, avoiding mold and throwing away perishable food.

For more tips on planning for and staying safe during floods, download the Get Ready campaign’s floods fact sheet, which is available in both English and Spanish.

Photo: U.S. Customs and Border Patrol workers conduct welfare checks on people who have been cut off by the flood waters in Kindred, N.D., on April 15. By Michael Rieger, courtesy Federal Emergency Management Agency.

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